“Which one of you is the Bandit King?” a voice demanded. Every member of the Black Angel’s crew turned their heads and stared at a man standing at the end of the table.

Lothar had to squint to see him properly. His head was still swimming.

The man was of average size and build. His white face was dotted with a strange design that extended over his bald head. While he was not a man of enormous stature his hands were huge, with gnarled knuckles and thick serpentine veins.

Black Tom pushed the woman out of his lap and began to rise with his hand on his flintlock. The Bandit King raised his hand and motioned for Tom to sit.

“I am the man you seek,” the Bandit King said. “If this is about business then we can take it outside. If this is about your woman, then I apologize.”

The crew laughed.

The man standing at the end of the table laughed as well.

“This is about me cutting off your black head and taking it to the Governor,” the man said.

Everyone stopped laughing.

The Bandit King stood. The women he was embracing quickly moved away from the table.

“Well that’s a mighty bold statement,” the Bandit King said. “Here is my retort.”

He grabbed his mug and with more nimbleness than his large fingers would have suggested, he hurled the cup at his aggressor’s  head.

The heavy tin cup caught the man off guard. He was in the middle of reaching for his own weapon, a small pocket-sized version of a flintlock, when the cup careened into his forehead. A gash opened in his forehead like a child’s smile. Blood poured down his face.

The Bandit King hopped onto the table and ran the length of it before his attacker could recover. Whistling, he kicked the man in the face.

The man nearly flipped over backward before landing on the floor in a heap.

“Now, can I finish my damn rum?” the Bandit King said with his arms wide.

Who are you?

I am the Bandit King. Some say I came from Hispaniola; that I was taken from my home when I was twelve. They say at twenty, I killed my slave-master and his family and then escaped. Others say I was born in the Colonies; that my father was an Apache and my mother was from the Khufu tribe. They say the Apache trained me to fight and I killed the bounty hunters who came looking for my mother since she was a runaway.

Which story is true?

There are as many stories about my origin as there are drops of water in the sea. Whichever best suits you is fine by me.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

He makes me money, but doesn’t cost me any.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

 She makes me money and doesn’t cost me any.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I am.

Care to elaborate?

No.

What is your most treasured possession? Besides you, that is.

Coin, rum and women…in that order. Of course, my ship, the Black Angel, holds a special place in my heart, too.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

To have an empty purse and an empty glass, while sitting in an empty room in a brothel full of women.

Who are your favorite writers?

S.A. Cosby is my favorite. He can’t hold his liquor, but he can tell a tale. He tells of one of my more exciting adventures in the Rococoa anthology. Have you read it?

Yes, I have; twice.

Well, I might have blistered my palms clapping so hard for you…if I gave a damn.

Excuse me?

Just yanking your chain, friend. So, how many stories are in this Rococoa anthology, anyway?

There are 14 stories in the anthology.

Wonderful! I am sure they are all magnificent stories.

They are.

Mine is the best, though.

You obviously haven’t read the anthology, so how would you know?

If it’s about me, it’s the best.

What is your greatest regret?

That I agreed to this interview. I didn’t know I was doing this for free.

It’s a chance to get people excited about your story.

I can’t buy rum with excitement. Now gold, on the pther hand, buys rum.

What is your motto?

I don’t have a motto. I can whistle you one hell of a tune, though.

Check out S.A. Cosby’s story The Bandit King and the Island Of Tears in the Rococoa anthology. Available now!

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

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